Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda has defended Labour Minister Mwesigwa Rukutana’s public service record, saying his capacity to deliver on key assignments and render robust legal advice to government remains unmatched.
“Of all the Ministers I work with, Rukutana is one of those I deal with most. The truth is he is knowledgeable and hardworking,” said Rugunda.
“He’s available. He offers very robust advice to government on legal matters. There is no doubt about his capacity,” the premier emphasised.
Rugunda spoke this past Saturday in Ntungamo, South Western Uganda where met a number of NRM leaders to reconcile them following disputes that characterized the primary elections in the just concluded polls.
Rugunda also visited Isingiro and Rwampara and Ntungamo districts
This is the first time such a high ranking government official is speaking highly of Rukutana, a prominent lawyer, after the recent Rushenyi incident that saw the Labour Minister charged with threatening violence in courts of law.
Rugunda said a few years ago, he heard a rumour that Rukutana was considering quitting elective politics.
“I told him there is a generational gap between you and myself; we must groom people to take responsibility,” said Rugunda, also reminding the public that Rukutana was the lead counsel of government and President in a case challenging the election of president Museveni in the 2016 elections.
“If cabinet was voting in Rushenyi, I have no doubt he would be our choice… I work with him (Rukutana) very closely on very serious matters,” said Rugunda.
Rugunda, who traveled to South Western Uganda from October 23 -25, 2020, at the decision of the NRM Central Executive Committee, met flag bearers, losers and those who have chosen to contest as independents and urged them to bury the hatchet and keep the party united to avoid losing votes in the 2021 elections.
“A divided house cannot stand,” Rugunda said.
“We are aware that the recently concluded primary elections had some challenges, and because of that, the NRM Central Executive Committee under our Chairman, President Museveni set up a tribunal to look into petitions. In addition, after the decision of the tribunal, a decision was taken to send different CEC members to meet all the parties to help heal the wounds,” he said.
In Ntungamo, several people complained that there are emerging segregation of some NRM members and candidates, describing them as lukewarm supports, while others call themselves solid.
“What we are seeing in NRM today is not different from what we saw in the last days of UPC, where we had UPC enkomba (strong) and UPC omufunguro (dilute). This divided and weakened the party leading to its demise,” a former candidate said.
“We have abaana (children) and ebyaana (bastards) in our party,” Bata Kamatenesi, the Woman flag bearer for Ntungamo claimed, saying she was given a cold shoulder during the entire campaign period.
In Rwampara, there are claims that the polling officials were compromised by candidates, altering Declaration Forms and falsifying results.
There were also reports that politics of sectarianism based on religion and tribes had infiltrated the elections and called in the NRM leadership to arrest the situation before it is too late.
Prime Minister Rugunda warned against using religion and tribe as a tool to mobilize support, saying that fighting sectarianism was one of the reasons President Museveni led a guerrilla war to liberate the country from such vice.
It was agreed that reconciliation efforts should be an ongoing component of the NRM, and not only come when problems have manifested.